USC completed the dominance of the Pac-10 conference in bowl games by overpowering Penn State in the Rose Bowl. The conference's bowl dominance proved that the Trojans should not have been kept out of the title game because of a loss at Oregon State.
Obviously, the guessing game of the BCS is ineffective. The perception of the Pac-10 is different now than it was eight weeks ago. Now, it could be possible that a one or two loss Pac-10 team could remain ranked in the top 10 of the polls. The top four teams in the Pac-10 conference could hold their own with the top half of every conference in the country.
Once again, the USC defense dominated another opponent and won another Rose Bowl. The Trojan defense coming into this game only allowed 7.8 points per game and that stat alone should have been enough proof that USC belonged in the title game. The 38-24 final score was not indicative of the Trojans complete domination of the Nittany Lions. USC won a record third-straight Rose Bowl.
One reason the Pac-10's national image suffered was because no one stepped up as the conference's No. 2 team. After Oregon got by Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl 42-31 – adding in their 65-38 blowout over Oregon State – the Ducks are playing like a top 10 team.
The Big XII might have been the best conference in college football this season. Oklahoma is playing in the National Title game and Texas is participating in the Fiesta Bowl. Other than the SEC, the Big XII is the only conference with two teams in the BCS. And Oregon pulled off a decisive win over the conference's fourth best team with the Cowboys' only losses coming to teams with a combined record of 34-3.
For the first half of the Holiday Bowl, the Oklahoma State offense was unstoppable. The Pokes' receiver Dez Bryant, who will be the best receiver in the country in 2009, finished the game with 13 catches for167 yards. The Ducks had no answer for Bryant the entire game. If he was not slowed down by an injury, he could have caught 20 balls.
The Ducks got a great performance from quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who finished the game with 258 passing yards, 106 yards rushing, and four touchdowns. Oregon was able to make second half defensive adjustments that held the Cowboys to 14 total points in the second half after giving up 17 points in the first quarter alone. The Ducks positioned themselves for a lofty preseason ranking and will be aiming for the Pac-10 title in 2009.
In what might easily be the worst bowl game this season, Oregon State beat Pitt in the Sun Bowl, 3-0. But the Beavers were able to win this game without two of their best offensive players. The Pac-10 Freshmen and Offensive Player of the Year Jacquizz Rodgers missed the game for Oregon State. His brother, James Rodgers, who finished the season with 51 catches and 4 touchdowns, also missed the game. The Beavers won this game with defense, something the Pac-10 is not given credit for outside of USC.
In the Emerald Bowl, it was the Jahvid Best show. California defeated the Miami Hurricanes 24-17. Best made unbelievable runs and made a very fast Hurricane defense look slow. He finished with 20 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns. After that performance, Best will be one of the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy in 2009 and Cal will have to figure out a way to get the ball in the hands of one of college football's best players as many times as possible. With one of the best running backs in the country, and an above average defense returning, the Bears will have high expectations in 2009.
Arizona defeated BYU 31-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl. This was the first bowl win for the Wildcats since their 23-20 victory over Nebraska in the 1998 Holiday Bowl. The win over BYU was huge for head coach Mike Stoops and the entire football program. The Wildcats were able to avenge a 20-7 loss to the Cougars from the 2007 season, and finish the season with an 8-5 mark their best since the 12-1 finish in '98.
At the start of next season, it will be interesting to see how many teams in the Pac-10 will be ranked in the top 25 preseason polls. The experience that many of the Pac-10 teams have coming back at the quarterback position could contribute to some big out of conference wins in 2009. Some of the high profile out of conference games for next season will be Oregon at Boise State, Cincinnati at Oregon State, Arizona at Iowa, Arizona State at Georgia, UCLA at Tennessee, Kansas State at UCLA, Maryland at Cal, Cal at Minnesota, and USC at Ohio State.
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